NYU opens campus in Shanghai

First stand-alone American university in China

By Nicholas Nehamas

A night view of Shanghai, the site of NYU’s new Chinese campus. (Reuters)

Over the last 30 years, 2.2 million Chinese students have attended American universities, according to China’s state news agency Xinhua.

Now, for the first time, traffic will start flowing across the Pacific in reverse.

On Monday, New York University announced the founding of a campus in Shanghai: New York University Shanghai, a joint partnership with the East China Normal University.

“In many ways it is as if we – together – are giving birth to a new child,” said John Sexton, president of New York University, to the Shanghai Daily.

“It has been a long labor – not without pain – and we know we have a tender child we need to raise together over the coming years.”

The college, which will open next fall, is expected to host around 300 students from China, America, India and other countries. Unlike students at other Chinese universities those enrolled at NYU Shanghai will not be required to take a course on Chinese socialism.

“NYU Shanghai will be a ‘melting pot’ for cultivating innovative talents from China and the rest of the world,” Yu Lizhong, the president of NYU Shanghai, said in comments carried by Xinhua.

“We will not copy the US education model,” added the school’s provost, Wang Xiaojing in an interview with China Daily.

Graduates of the program will receive a degree from NYU.

American universities see a land of opportunity in China. Duke University is also working on a Shanghai campus.

Writing in Forbes, Shaun Rein explains: “As attractive as studying abroad is for millions of Chinese students, more and more are returning to China after they graduate. Also, more don’t even want to leave China in the first place. They’d prefer to be closer to their families and not miss career opportunities in China.”

Another possible reason for Chinese students wanting to stay in China? The proliferation of illegal diploma mills in the U.S. and Canada.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out

An investigative piece in the Hindustan Times details how bogus colleges in North America lure Indian students to their campuses with the promise of a lucrative degree. But all the students get is a shoddy education and a mountain of student debt.

In 2010, U.S. officials shut down Tri Valley University in California for forging immigration documents — 90 percent of the students there were Indian.

Many such schools greatly overstate their academic credentials. Most of their “campuses” are a couple of floors in a run-down office park. After graduation students at these institutions can look forward to careers as waiters, gas stations attendants and manual laborers.

“My degree was useless,” complained one Indian student who attended a bogus school in Canada. “I feel cheated.”

As for legitimate foreign universities like NYU setting up shop on Indian soil, they shouldn’t bother, at least according to one story in The Hindu. A reporter for the Indian newspaper talked to a group of students at the Lady Doak College in Madurai, who strongly oppose a government initiative that will allow Western universities to open up campuses on the subcontinent.

According toThe Hindu, some Indian students fear Western universities will cause India to “lose its cultural identity” and lead India “back to [a] colonial era.”